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Posts Tagged ‘CEDAW’

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Snapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.

‘Equal Recognition’ campaign launched in Edinburgh; hope for a ‘third gender’ within the UK?

Oriana Frame, Durham University.

On the 1st of November 2014, the Equal Recognition campaign was launched in Edinburgh. The campaign, pioneered by The Scottish Transgender Alliance alongside the Equality Network, has vocalised the notion that Scotland, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, is falling behind countries such as India, Denmark, Bangladesh and Germany who have already legally recognised a ‘third’ non-binary gender.

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Ben Warwick is a PhD candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Durham Law School. He tweets at @btcwarwick

The direction of travel for gender equality, and particularly women’s economic equality, has been reversed in recent years. Women’s groups have predicted that ‘ground previously gained will most certainly be lost’, that ‘austerity risks turning back time’, and that there has ‘been regression in some key areas’. These backwards steps put the UK in danger of breaching its human rights obligations under international law. The effect of the economic and financial crises on women’s economic rights has been largely discussed as though women’s issues were identical to those of men. Women’s rights, therefore, are the particular focus of what follows.

The UK voluntarily accepted obligations to respect women’s rights in 1986, yet the latest reports would seem to suggest that the UK has forgotten its responsibilities in relation to women’s economic rights, or operates under the ill-founded assumption that these responsibilities are suspended by an economic recession. The ‘Women’s Convention’ – the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – is broad in its coverage, and affords women many rights in respect of discrimination. These rights have been affected by the crises in what Oxfam has labelled ‘a perfect storm’ of ‘economic stagnation, the rising cost of living and public spending cuts’. The debate on the apportionment of blame for these three phenomenon is well-rehearsed and unresolved but, what is clear as a matter of international human rights law, is that regardless of what or who caused the crisis, the responsibility for addressing the negative impacts upon women rights rests firmly with the State (defined as ‘all branches of Government’).

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Equality & Sex Discrimination

Sheffield City Council has settled an equal pay case shortly before it was due to be heard by the Supreme Court. Around 900 women claimed that they were paid less than men doing comparable work. Last year the Court of Appeal agreed, holding that productivity bonuses granted to male employees resulted in unequal pay of men and women that was discriminatory (Gibson v Sheffield City Council [2010] EWCA Civ 63). Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, said: ‘This is great news for thousands of women working at Sheffield council …. This decision also has implications for around 400,000 other women’s cases across the country. We hope these councils now stop wasting money on lawyers’ fees and face up to their responsibilities to pay women fairly’.

Cris McCurley, partner and head of international family law at north-east firm Ben Hoare Bell, said that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill contravenes the UK’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). (more…)

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